PGA Pro Block Soaks in Dream Run Through Rainy Round 3
Michael Block is a 46-year-old PGA Professional from California who could be the father of some of the game’s young stars. He’s wearing a blazer in his championship head shot. His face is weathered from years in the sun – both playing and practicing. If you’ve got $150, then you can take an hour-long lesson with him.
But you might have to wait a little while after this week, because through 54 holes at the PGA Championship he’s at even par and tied for eighth place.
An epic week. Praised has been heaped. New fans have been made. A couple tears have been shed. He made a new friend in playing partner Justin Rose.
But hasn’t this been awesome?
“I didn't look at Rosey’s face for the first three holes because I'm a big fan of Rosey and I've watched him my whole life, and I knew it could get a little too intimidating,” Block said. “The fact that, ‘Holy crap, I'm sitting here playing with Justin Rose,’ and that might get too big for me, so I literally just kind of looked down, looked at his shoes the first couple holes, and got off to a decent start and went on from there.”
Block said Rose applauded his good shots and the duo talked family and golf. And now if he gets into the PGA TOUR’s American Express event next season and sees Rose sitting down having lunch, he’ll sit down with him.
“He was like a buddy,” Block said.
This week marks Block’s fifth PGA Championship. The guy is a star, plain and simple. He won the 2022 PGA Professional of the Year and was the Southern California PGA Player of the Year for the 10th time last year. He’s played over 20 PGA TOUR events. Block said Friday he felt like he had the game to compete.
The last PGA Professional to be inside the top 10 on the leaderboard through 54 holes of the PGA Championship was Bob Boyd in 1990. He was tied for 10th after three rounds and finished tied for 19th.
“I've made the cut, which is obviously a huge goal. I feel like I could shoot even par out here every day. I feel like at the end of the four days that that might be a pretty good result,” Block said after his second round.
So far, so good. He shot 70, again, on Saturday.
Block has leaned on an elite putter to get him to this position so far at Oak Hill. In a field that boasted 99 of the top 100 in the world, Block is second through 54 holes in strokes gained: Putting. He’s also 24th in both strokes gained: off the tee and approach the green. He’s putting together an impressive performance on a difficult golf course – and he’s clearly having fun doing it.
“I felt like he was rooting for me and I was rooting for him, and the crowd was certainly rooting for him,” Justin Rose said. “It was a really great energy out there to play with today, and he plays in a sort of a carefree way, just his mannerisms and routine and the way he kind of one look, hit, especially with his putter. He looks very, very strong with that club.”
Block started the day with a bogey but got it back right away with a birdie on the par-4 2nd. Despite a double bogey on No. 6 – again playing difficult, more than half-shot over par – Block rallied with three birdies on the back nine, including back-to-back circles on Nos. 14 and 15. The birdie on 14 came while he was doing a walk-and-talk interview with CBS, even.
The biggest thing Block has seemingly done this week is show that PGA Professionals can do it all. He’s dealing with galleries and blocking out distractions and trying not to realize how much money he has a chance to make this week. It’s all part of his life’s usual balancing act, however.
“You deal with 600 different personalities [as a PGA Pro], right? You've got a lawyer telling you how to grow grass and you've got an accountant telling you that the burger wasn't cooked right,” Block said with a smile. “That's a natural thing for me. I don't have to try to do that. I'm just being – like I said, I'm just being myself. That's my big goal.”
Block’s ball is marked “Why not” and it has meant a lot this week. He’s older than everyone on the first page of the leaderboard but he’s here playing and he’s not just in the mix. He could earn a spot in next year’s PGA Championship if he ends up in the top 15. Could get into the Masters if he manages to finish inside the top four.
Could he win the whole thing?